June 12, 2005

Where Man is Powerless to Help,

God Makes Only One Provision

Sermon Notes


The title declares the point: ONLY ONE.

To be sure, God may help in lovingkindness, deep and intimate concern, in healing diseases, in strengthening the mind, in giving vision and guidance and in countless ways; but where man is entirely powerless to cover and control, first in the arena of life as such, facing the world ,then  in the need for the right function of life in itself, for we are self-conscious, and finally before God Himself, there is only one way as a foundation.  All the rest follows if you have it, lacks if you do not.

Psalm 49 stresses this fact and we turn to it.  The spiritual alphabet which displays the mind of God is found in the Bible and it is not now found anywhere else; the words which He builds from His own mind are found there and not in any other dreamed up book; the action which enables man to become a child of God is found in word, there, in deed in Christ; and it is not found anywhere else (as also in Galatians 1). The power to enable these things and confer eternal life is found through the Redeemer in whose gift it lies. It is not found anywhere else (as in John 14:6). This Psalm is profoundly simple and it is simply profound.



and the RULE FOR LIFE  49:1-9

In verses 1-4, mystery is declared, like goods for customs, as about to be revealed.

At verses 5-9, we are shown that evil days of trouble hold no terror, for even wealth has tied hands, when it comes to death and judgment. From these, none can deliver; no man can even REDEEM his brother. Money is irrelevant, desire is feeble, effort is unrewarding. It is OUT OF BOUNDS. Moreover, it COSTS too much, for it requires a gift of righteousness, to cover sin and not an addition of some other sinner, as if his sins could redeem those of a second sinner. Debts do not cover costs!

When once it is paid, however, this immense sum to cover the sum of the sins of all who require and receive their pardon, there are no other options. It ceases for ever, this redemption. Christ covered the case, ONCE, and He has provided the way of SALVATION SINGLY, and having died, is risen; so there are NO MORE ways, options or hopes. It is this or nothing. He gave all; and we have to take all that He has provided. It is a matter of ‘alls’ not supermarket choices.

This Psalm 49 is doubtless later than the Psalms of David where there appears the divine way, in Psalms 22. 16 and 40. These specify in order, the crucifixion of Christ, His resurrection and His incarnation when a body was prepared for Him, showing how  He delighted to do the work of redemption, costly though it was. Love is like that; but the love of God has no bounds in its thrust, while moving in just one way in its "must", the obligation to receive it where it is (as in Isaiah 55).

Eternal life is the product of this redemption for it is Christ's to give, since it is His own life (I John 1:1-4). Try Romanism, Communism, sects or Islam, that specialised sect, and you are as far off as before. It is ONE WAY, the biblical way since God IN this book of the Lord has designated for mankind what is His will and mind, and shown His heart in the sending of Christ to DO it. He is not going to be TOLD how to pardon, INSTRUCTED in how to redeem, or taught lessons from sinners about how to love! Love does not forget about the realities in and for man, and provides for these, not for some imaginary splendour of dreaming minds.

Yet the reality provided far surpasses any dream, being precisely the need for man: the pardon, the peace and the power, the presence of God through His Holy Spirit and the whole attendant needs met as you do His will. 



In high contrast to this, man without God seeks eternal remembrance on earth, instead of before God, even naming his estates after himself with this in view; but the soul shrinking from cover meets death as a fool, unredeemed, unpardoned, displaced, in purpose-built peril that has no hope, no outlet, no good. There is ONE WAY, for as there is ONE GOD so He knows His own mind. So is it in vv. 10-12. Then in 13-15, we see that the rebels are worm fodder, and when the Redeemer comes to rule on earth, His majestic presence will ensure that in that day, the righteous shall have dominion over the spiritual rebels, whose end is in obscurity (40:19).  This reminds one of Matthew 13:43, 19:28, Rev. 20:6 and Psalm 2.


      THAT FLEES AND FAILS   49:16-20

That is their way, denizens of darkness, their fling a failure without light; but as to the Psalmist and those who are Christ's, the case is in vital contrast.  God Himself redeems a people, one by one, for Himself (Psalm 49:15); and it is He who brings you, welcomed in (cf. Acts 7 at the death of Stephen, with Hosea 13:14, John 6:50ff.). But remember to be dressed (Matthew 22:1-15), in the righteousness of Christ, for there is no other RELEVANT, pure, purposeful and loving and available enough, to cover in its depth and breath, the whole scope of human sin in as many as receive this Gospel grace.

Meanwhile, remember that earth's glory and power need no awe; for glory without God evaporates at death. There is no security to be found, nor any peace administered in the empty praise of the socially oriented, whose words may die with them. Nor does any real or feigned admiration of theirs provide light for the darkness which comes where it belongs! When flesh exalts itself, it ends ruined and meaningless before God. But as for God’s own, transformed and redeemed people, as if with David, “I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with Your likeness”, for “I will see Your face in righteousness”, itself the very gift of God (Romans 5:17).